A year ago it was announced that Hollywood was bringing a biopic about Richard Montañez, the creator of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, to the big screen. Despite Montañez having a fantastic story worth telling, audiences were skeptical and they’re even more so now.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Eva Longoria, who recently produced a remake of Spain’s Gran Hotel, would direct the biopic dubbed Flamin’ Hot. Per Deadline, Longoria’s “authentic approach” to the story helped her win the position, beating out countless other top directors. The script, penned by Lewis Colick, was part of an intense bidding war when the project was initially announced.
The story details Montañez’s life and that of his wife, Judy. Montañez grew up in the small California town of Gausti where he picked grapes with his Mexican immigrant family. He secured a job at Frito-Lay as a janitor in 1976. After being inspired by the president of Frito-Lay, Montañez took home some plain Cheetos to test out new flavor combinations. While eating a Mexican-style elote, Montañez wondered if he could take those same flavors and put them on the product. With little more than a $3 tie and a book on business techniques, Montañez pitched the idea to Frito-Lay who accepted it, turning it into the company’s most popular product and changing Montañez’s life forever. He eventually worked his way up to Marketing Executive at the company.
The same day of Longoria’s hiring announcement, an Annenberg study was dropped detailing how Latino inclusion remains horrible. Only one Latina in the last 12 years has directed one of the top 1,200 grossing features: Mexican-born helmer Patricia Riggen. Immediately social media snarked about Longoria, poking fun at both her as a director and the project in general. The actress-turned-director currently has two projects she’s helming at Universal, 24/7 with Kerry Washington and My Daughter’s Quinceañera. Her production company, Unbelievable Entertainment is also producing A Class Apart for HBO and the Nisha Ganatra vehicle Lucky Boy.
Longoria has certainly cemented her status as a creator and it’s ironic how critics and audiences want more diversity yet lampoon those trying to make it happen. Montañez’s story is amazing and deserves to be told. If we can get a story about a white woman inventing a mop, I’m pretty sure we can make room for a biopic on Hot Cheetos. It’s just a shame this project didn’t hire a Latino writer.